Willowfountain's Zweli 'a kind-hearted man'

2009-05-06 00:00

A KIND-HEARTED man who always greets and chats to them — and whom they hope will improve their lives — is how the people of Willowfountain describe KZN premier-in-waiting Zweli Mkhize, who grew up in the village. Mkhize is expected to be elected premier at today’s swearing-in of members of the KZN Legislature.

People from Mkhize’s village outside Pietermaritzburg and his family members said he hates seeing people struggle and tries his best to improve the lives of his neighbours.

His older brother, Jabulani Mkhize (62), beams when he talks about him. Jabulani said although Mkhize is highly educated, he does not look down on those who are less fortunate. He said Mkhize grew up participating in stick fighting competitions and he was good at it.

Right: Zweli Mkhize's older brother Jabulani.

“Zweli was bright and people were already speculating that he would be a school principal when he grows up,” said Jabulani.

Asked whether he trusts his younger brother’s leadership to run the province, Jabulani says his brother does not shy away from the huge responsibility of the job and he has confidence in Zweli’s abilities.

Mkhize’s sister-in-law, Phumzile Mkhize, who met him in 1969 when he was doing standard four (grade six), said the premier-in-waiting cares about people and there is no doubt in her mind that he will do well.

Mkhize’s neighbours in Willowfountain also have good things to say about him. They described him as a friendly person who takes time out to greet them and chat to them about a range of issues, such as the schooling of their children. His neighbour, Bongi Zaca (38), who lives in a mud house with six children a stone’s throw away from Mkhize’s house, said he always invites the children over and gives them sweets and fruit.

“He is against children not going to school and he is always encouraging us to plant, and he gives us seeds to plant cabbages and beetroot,” said Zaca.

Zimbili Ngubane (48) said the neighbours are always invited to Mkhize’s house when there are family functions. Zaca said she would like Mkhize to create more job opportunities. Ngubane requested a tarred road. Although happy about Mkhize becoming the premier, Greta Dlamini (67), whose mud house partially collapsed during storms in December last year, said that if Mkhize could build her a low-cost house or delegate people to fix her house and get her seeds to plant vegetables, that would be enough for her.

Mkhize is credited by the people of Willowfountain for pushing for the roads to be tarred and for the community clinic.

They said they hope their lives will further improve once he becomes premier.

thandom@witness.co.za

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